Benefits of Working in the Dental Profession Prior to Starting a Career as a Dentist
by Dr. Jennifer Davis
Beginning a career as a dental professional can seem difficult, but many individuals who started their dental careers as a dental assistant or dental hygienist have found that slow and steady progress in the dental field has had many rewards. Having mastered the skills required to work as a dental assistant or hygienist, many ambitious individuals are left wondering, “What’s next?” This often starts the journey toward entering dental school.
If you wonder what is involved in enrolling in dental school and whether you would be a good candidate, make some phone calls and start asking questions. To start, ask basic questions about whether you need to take the DAT and what courses are required for admissions. The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) and dental school admissions staff can provide information to help you start your investigation
I started my dental career in a dental assisting/dental hygiene program. After working as a hygienist for 10 years, I returned to dental school. I do not believe dental school is truly a breeze for anyone; each person has his or her own forte. A lot of students follow the traditional route of schooling and will enter dental school after completing a four-year bachelors degree. This is not necessarily the best route for all students. Dental schools look for qualified, well-rounded, motivated individuals. It takes many years to develop the skills dental assistants and dental hygienists possess. The practical knowledge developed by working within a dental practice can be a tremendous asset. The people skills you possess are priceless, as are the skills you mastered while performing your role as an assistant or hygienist.
As a new dentist, time is required to develop your clinical skills. Having an established background within the dental profession allows you to dive into your career as a dentist and not be as distracted by things such as practice management and staff issues. You’ve already developed your own practice philosophy and can focus on the task at hand — treating patients.
So for all of you who have toyed with the idea of going to dental school, start asking some questions and go for it. You’ll be glad you made the effort.